growing strengths

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Being aware of your personal strengths starts a process of reflection, mindfulness and presence about who you uniquely are and how you can make a difference. It's a start on being authentic. It's a starting place for purpose and meaning in your life and it's a starting place for making a broader impact and contribution. 

When you add to your own self-awareness an awareness of others' strengths, you are then building understanding, appreciation and relationship. You create opportunities for collaboration and alignment of your strengths. And when your awareness grows to seeing the strengths of a whole team, organization, or even a whole community, you have the ability to move together into a strong future.

But we still have a culture that focuses on weaknesses. We have grown up spotting the problems, discussing what's broken and noticing what's wrong. The Gallup organization asked people "Which will help you be most successful? Fixing your weaknesses or building your strengths?"    

59% still say, fixing weaknesses.  

So this summer I spent time working with individuals, teams, companies and communities growing strengths. I spent time listening for strengths, sharing or mirroring back to people the strengths I have seen and asking people to stop, to listen and look inwardly at moments of truth that illuminate their strengths. I've had over 100 people take the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment and start to grow their strengths- start to design their lives, their teams, their organizations and communities from strengths.  

What did you spend your time on this summer? Stop for a moment and ask yourself when you felt strong this summer...

I felt strong when __________________________________________________________

I felt strong when __________________________________________________________

I felt strong when __________________________________________________________

Let's launch into Autumn from your strengths!

Jody Thone, The Center for Good Work

My talent themes:   Connectedness, Strategic, Maximizer, Individualization, Empathy.

What are people saying about growing strengths?

"I was quite impressed.  All my life everything I have been taught to concentrate on what were my weaknesses.(and believe me there’s a lot of them!) This has given me a whole new perspective."

"I have to say, I was surprised by the whole thing, in a good way.  I have been through these types of ‘workshops’ before, and generally found them to be a load of crap.  Very little (if any) of the information they provided was accurate or good in any way, and I went into this one thinking “oh great, what a waste of two hours this is gonna be.” However, when I took the online test I was really surprised how accurate it turned out. I liked the way the whole workshop went, I thought it was interesting how many times I was thinking ‘hey that sounds like us!’.  All on all, I think it went very well and gave all of us some valuable insight not only into our coworkers but the values and direction of the company as a whole."

"The best leadership development and team building session we've done in years!"

Living Intentionally

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Written by Alyssa Wildenauer

At certain points in my life, I have found that specific words act as a theme. Currently, it would be the word intentional. This word has a prevalent place in my present life, and has been in my awareness since starting college at Luther. It has built my most cherished relationships and has allowed me to grow into the person I want to become.

While reflecting on my time at The Center for Good Work this January, I found that the word intentional has once again emerged and found its place. This month, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with Jody to redesign her Leadership Trust Initiative program, to prepare marketing materials for future programs and to observe coaching and workshops on leading with your purpose and strengths. While working and learning with Jody, I have felt a sense of alignment. I realized that I enjoy this work because it is “performed with awareness, done deliberately, consciously, or on purpose.” My tasks each day embody intentionality. The Leadership Trust Initiative prepares community leaders to be self-aware, to listen deeply, to collaborate deliberately and to make change with purpose. The coaching workshops challenge the clients to awaken their purpose in order to join the community in making a greater difference. The Strengths Workshop this week was focused on self-awareness, collaboration and bringing your strongest self to each responsibility you have.

Awareness, purpose, leadership and collaboration all need intention to emerge. In Jody’s words, “What we put our intention on grows.” And as we grow with intention, we will then make a bigger impact.

Presence and Knowing

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I have a Presence Practice Group that meets monthly.  It's an incredible group of people who want to learn to be more present in their lives.  In our January session we sat with the following John O'Donohue blessing:

 

 

 

 

 

       In out-of-the-way places of the heart, where your thoughts never think to wander, this beginning 

       has been quietly forming, waiting until you were ready to emerge.

       For a long time it has been watching your desire, feeling the emptiness growing inside of you,  

       noticing how you willed yourself on, still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

       It watched you play with the seduction of saftey and the gray promises that sameness whispered,

       heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent, wondering would you always live like this.

       Then the delight, when your courage kindled, and out you stepped onto new ground, your eyes

       young again with energy and dream, a path of plenitude opening before you.

       Though your destination is not yet clear you can trust the promise of this opening; unfurl yourself

       into the grace of beginning that is at one with your life's desire.

       Awaken your spirit to adventure; hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk; soon you will be

       home in a new rhythm, for your soul senses the world that awaits you.

I asked everyone to create an image in sand that expresses their journey- the journey of knowing presence.  It was amazing to watch everyone start to create- drawing images and pathways in the sand that signify how they begin, how they get stuck and how they return, what they need to practice to be present and to really know. 

If we can stop separating our heads from our hearts, our bodies from our souls...we actually Know. Not know...but Know.  I invite you to remember how you always come up with that name that you forgot when you drop the trying and thinking and straining.  How you always have that creative break through when you take a break and go for a walk.  This year I invite you to breath, drop into presence and experience Knowing.

The Ripple Effect of Good Work

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One of my top Clifton StrengthsFinder themes is Connectedness, and while I do see, feel and believe in the “ripple” effect, sometimes, I question my impact on big needs and issues that the world is facing.  I teach and coach that we each have a role, a call to use our strengths, passions and values as guideposts to making a difference in the world.  My call is to work with others as they grow into their highest potential.  I connect people to their True Selves and help them to move into action from Presence. 

But… there is still a small whisper inside my heart that says, “Jody, what are you doing about climate change, destruction of our lakes, rivers, oceans, land and air?  Jody, there is violence, war, poverty, homelessness, loneliness and illness.”

If this whisper keeps me awake, diligent and compassionate, then I welcome it.  But there are times when it raises it’s voice and hopelessness knocks on my heart’s door.  An old scratchy recording plays, “you aren’t big enough, you are not strong enough, you’re not smart enough.”  Hopelessness has come for a visit and it has brought it’s old, dusty record collection that it wants to play in my house.

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

Rumi does not say, “let them ruin your house.” Nor, “let them move in.” So let me remember that hopelessness is not invited to live with me- it may visit on occasion, with it’s friends, depression and fear, but I do not need to create a story that keeps them from moving on and moving through.  I do not accept playing those old, scratchy recordings that they carry with them. I may choose to entertain them with some new recordings that have a base line of boldness and a tune of true humility.

This morning the knock on my heart’s door was from gratefulness, joy and true humility.  I received an e-mail from a coaching client of mine that reminded me that my work has a ripple effect and in those ripples, my work connects or touches all the issues that my compassionate, connected heart beats for.

This particular client is a medical doctor and some key lines from this morning's e-mail are:

"Then came Ebola and I felt compelled to respond. I am leaving for Liberia a week from tomorrow for 3-4 months to help stop the spread by caring for Ebola patients. I am at peace with this. All of my energy is focused now on the preparations for being gone for that long period of time. 

Again, thank you for your help. I will take with me some of your teaching to improve my interactions with my team of healthcare professionals in Liberia.”

I celebrate the ripple effect of good work.  I send my open, full heart to all of those courageous people who are working around the world on Ebola. 

I just wanted to share a moment that fuels me to keep going… maybe this can be a knock on your heart’s door to keep doing your own good work.  We’ll put the welcome mat out for you.